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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: SCOTUS, Trump Collide Over Transgender Rights

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Transgender people have had a head-spinning week. First, the Trump administration issued long-promised rules rolling back the Obama administration’s protections against discrimination in health care. But just three days later, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling authored by conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, said that gay and transgender people are protected by the nation’s core employment anti-discrimination law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Meanwhile, the national divide over how to address the coronavirus pandemic continues to widen, with infections soaring in some conservative states, and a backlash building against public health advice.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, Tami Luhby of CNN and Shefali Luthra of KHN.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • Even though states have begun the process of reopening their economies, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to roil workplaces. Many employers are looking for advice from public health officials on how to operate safely, but it’s hard to stick to firm protocols when working with consumers who may have different attitudes about how to stay safe.
  • People who haven’t been able to return to work face a grim prospect as the $600 federal enhancement to unemployment insurance benefits run out. Many Republicans in Congress are not keen to extend the aid because they fear it is keeping some people from returning to their regular jobs. Some workers, on the other hand, are afraid to go back to work for fear of catching the virus themselves or bringing it home to vulnerable family members.
  • The reopenings are spurring increases in COVID-19 cases. So far, public health experts say, they aren’t seeing a spike in disease caused by spread during the national protests against police violence.
  • The Food and Drug Administration this week revoked its emergency authorization for the use of hydroxychloroquine for hospitalized patients with the coronavirus. Although a doctor can still order the medication for a patient, the announcement put the agency on the side of public health officials who argued that recent studies show the drug has little benefit for coronavirus patients weighed against the potential cardiovascular problems it may cause.
  • Anti-vaccine advocates are stepping up their campaigns as trials progress toward a COVID vaccine. At the same time, public health experts warn that the rush to get people immunized once a vaccine is developed could have immense consequences if it is found to be ineffective or has side effects.

Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too:

Julie Rovner: KHN and the AP’s “Public Health Officials Face Wave Of Threats, Pressure Amid Coronavirus Response,” by Lauren Weber, Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Michelle R. Smith

Tami Luhby: Stateline’s “Medicaid Rolls Surge, Adding to Budget Woes,” by Michael Ollove

Anna Edney: Bloomberg News’ “Why Acting Fast Is the Key to Beating a Second Wave of Covid-19,” by Chloe Whiteaker, Adrian Leung and Jeremy Scott Diamond

Shefali Luthra: KHN’s “White House Left States On Their Own To Buy Ventilators. Inside Their Mad Scramble,” by Rachana Pradhan

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